1959 - The Uttoxeter
Challenge Cup is won at Oldfields.
Rocester 9 Uttoxeter
Davies (Chairman); Monty Fox; Noel Hooper; Bernard Bullock; Eric
Harrison; Billy Harvey; Harry Metzner; Jack Madden; Brian Walker; Joe
Carpenter; Ken Harrison (Treasurer); Gordon Mellor (Secretary). Front: Frank
Hitchen; Maurice Jones; Jim Bloor; Jack Harvey; Peter Walker; Charlie
The History of Rocester Football Club
Part 4 - County Leaguers (1957-1984)
After so much success in the
Stafford Amateur League the club looked for a new challenge, and gained entry
Staffordshire County League (North) in time for the 1957-58 season, which marked the beginning of a
27-year association with that league.
A highly respectable third
place was achieved in the first season, but the highlight of the campaign was winning the
Bank Cup at the first attempt. Victories over Northwood Rangers, Knutton
Rangers, Park Hall and Michelin paved the way to the final where Port Vale ‘A’
awaited on Friday 31st April on the J & G Meakins ground in Hanley.
April had been an extremely busy month for
Rocester, and the final against Port Vale was their twelfth match
in just 26 days. Vale had hammered Rocester
8-0 the previous Saturday and were the obvious favourites to win the cup,
however a super-human effort from the whole team and a solitary goal scored by
Eric Ault turned the form book upside-down and Rocester won the cup.
The May Bank Cup was retained
in 1958-59 when Wolstanton United were beaten 1-0 in the final, and the
Uttoxeter Cup was also added to the trophy cabinet following a 9-0 destruction
of neighbours Uttoxeter Amateurs in the final, which was played at Oldfields.
A fine run in the
Staffordshire F.A. Junior Cup almost provided a third piece of silverware for the
season. Audley, Knutton Rangers and Fenton Amateurs were all well beaten as the
team cruised through to the Northern Zone semi-final where they were drawn away
to Leek Town, who at that time were playing in the Manchester League.
A terrific performance saw
Rocester record a magnificent 5-1 win; Frank Hitchen, Brian Walker (2), Tony Wain
and Geoff Shenton netting the goals that earned a
place in the Northern Zone Final against
Wolstanton United which was to be played under the floodlights of Stoke City's
Victoria Ground - the first time a Rocester team had ever played under
It proved to be a memorable evening for the
five bus loads of Rocester supporters who travelled up to the Potteries for the
game. Tony Wain (2) and Brian Walker
scored the goals in a fine 3-0 win which put Rocester through to
the overall final against former Stafford Amateur League rivals Stone St. Michaels.
Stoke City's legendary manager Tony Waddington
came into the dressing room after the game to congratulate the team, and, in
reference to Brian Walker's bullet-like shot for the last goal asked; "Where's
the lad who scored that third goal? I've never seen a goal like that before!"
Despite a brave performance in the final which was played on Stafford Rangers’
Marston Road ground, Stone St. Michaels, who had won the Southern Zone of the
competition, deservedly took the cup with a 4-2 win.
Although the semi-finals of
both the Uttoxeter Challenge Cup and the May Bank Cup were reached in 1959-60 the club had its
first barren season for eight years, and that set the trend for much of
the 1960’s with only the odd cup success breaking up a series of mediocre
The most notable achievements were beating
a strong Milton United side 3-1 in the 1961 County League Cup Final - Ivan Ash,
Ray Morley and Peter Walker scoring the goals - and thrashing Cheadle Town 8-0 in the 1962 Uttoxeter Cup final,
with Brian Walker netting four of
In 1961 the County
League (North) was split into two Divisions (A and B) - the aim being to
form two new Divisions (1 and 2) the following year from the highest
placed teams. Rocester had a poor season however, finishing 10th in the
11-team Division A, which wasn't high enough to qualify for the newly
formed Division One and were placed into Division Two for the 1962-63
A third-place finish at
the end of the 1962-63 season was good enough to earn promotion to
Division 1, but despite the success on the field the club suffered a
financial loss over the season.
A rare action picture taken on the old
Mill Street ground sometime around 1960. The Rocester player taking a
shot and the opposing team remain unidentified. Can you name them?
1962 - The Uttoxeter
Challenge Cup is won again at Oldfields.
Rocester 8 Cheadle Town 0
Club Treasurer George
Jefferey presented the balance sheet at the A.G.M. in July 1963, and
pointed out that poor weather conditions during the winter had resulted
in gate money falling by £12; Supporters' Club memberships had fallen by
£14; while the cost of transport had risen by a further £19 to a total
of £134. Referees fees, insurance and administration costs had all
increased on the previous season, being £428, but the club had managed
to finish "well on the credit side".
In thanking the
Treasurer, Chairman Ken Green informed the meeting that the Committee
was now running a Bingo Club and membership was increasing. A Field Day
had also been organised with a friendly match against Waterhouses F.C.
in the evening. It was hoped that those two events would more than cover
the loss made during the previous season.
Having won promotion
the club expressed a need for several more experienced players if they
were to operate successfully, but the step up a level proved difficult
and after just one season the team were relegated back into Division 2
for the 1964-65 campaign after finishing second-from-bottom with just
eleven points from 26 matches.
The team was beginning to
decline and Rocester became a mid-table side for the next four seasons
further dip in results saw the team finish the 1968-69 season at its
ebb for many years - third from bottom in Division 2.
After that season of struggle the club's future
was put into some doubt when almost the entire team broke
away to form a new club in the village called Springfield Old Boys.
To the eternal credit of the small committee, the
playing staff was very quickly replenished
and the first team completed the following 1969-70 season in a highly creditable fourth place - one point and
one place ahead of Springfield Old Boys.
Tony Croft was among Rocester's
most prolific goal scorers throughout the 1960s.
During the course of the 1962-63 season he netted 44
goals, which included six against Bamfords in a
Uttoxeter Cup tie, seven in a 12-1 league win at Newcastle Town, and
another six against Stafford Colliery.
In addition, he scored four more
hat-tricks that season.
Saturday 27th October 1962
Rocester hit top form in their away match with Newcastle Town on
Saturday. Newcastle were completely outplayed in all departments, and
Rocester took full advantage of their chances to hammer the home side by
Newcastle's defence was slow-footed and without an answer to the
incisive raiding moves of Rocester's five man attack, with Hitchens,
Jones, Croft and the Walker brothers playing havoc with the home
scoring started in the first minute, Croft banging the ball home.
minutes later Jones picked up a rebound on the edge of the box and
crashed it in. A minute later Hitchens made it three and Croft added two
more to bring the score to 5-0 after only 15 minutes' play.
Newcastle's consolation goal came after 20 minutes, when Sutton, their
centre forward, the only Town player to worry the Rocester defence, put
a good shot past Swanwick.
Rocester hit back and from Brian Walker's well taken corner kick Hibberd
made it 6-1 from fully 25 yards before Peter
Walker and Croft brought the half time score to 8-1.
the help of a strong wind Newcastle improved a little in the second
half, but still couldn't stop the goals totting up.
had a block buster pushed out by keeper Howell. It rebounded to Peter
Walker, who crashed it home.
forward Croft scored three more before the end to bring his contribution
Rocester side played well, but special mention must go to centre half
Roy Morley and seven-goal Tony Croft.
The reserve team also exceeded all
expectations by winning three competitions - the Leek &
Moorland League Division Two title, the Division Two Subsidiary Cup and the Leek
Post Charity Shield. The second string were only denied a fourth trophy after
the Leek & Moorland League Division One champions Cellarhead United beat them 4-1 in the League Cup
Minor adjustments to the structure of the County League during the 1970 close
season saw the re-naming of Divisions One and Two as the Premier Division and
Building on their fourth place finish, further improvements to the team
were made and
the 1970-71 campaign brought the first league
championship trophy for fifteen years back to the village. Rocester topped
Division One of the County League after taking 36 points from their 22 matches -
six points clear of nearest challengers Kidsgrove Athletic.
However, promotion to the Premier
Division produced serious problems for the team, and when the first season in the top flight
ended Rocester found themselves firmly rooted to the bottom of the table with
only nine points gained from the 22 matches played.
Relegation was avoided thanks to the
restructuring of the league, but interest in the club appeared to have reached an all-time low
and it was recorded in the club's minute book that just one spectator from the
village attended the 3-1 home defeat against Rists United in November 1971.
Despite a poor season on the field the 1971-72 club accounts showed a turnover
of £910.70p (which included just £15.27p from gate receipts) and a "healthy"
balance of £176.44p in the National Westminster Bank.
The committee remained active behind the scenes and were trying to move
the club forward with a number of plans. During the summer of 1972 club
officials met with their counterparts from the two other football clubs
based in the village - Springfield Youth Club and Springfield Old Boys -
to discuss an amalgamation, with the aim being to create one successful
1965-66 - County League
Back: Ken Green; Tony
Briddon; Mick Smith;
Graham Dixon; Peter Swanwick; Tony Croft; Ray Woolley; Gilbert Egerton.
Front: Jack Harvey;
Roy Morley; Brian Ferneyhough; Peter
Walker; Keith Carnwell.
Talks went well and the plans
to merge went ahead smoothly and fairly quickly. Rocester were now able to field
sides in both the Premier Division and Division Two of the County League, along
with an Under-18 team which was entered into the Leek & Cheadle Youth League.
Running a junior team enabled the club to make use of the facilities
at Springfield Secondary School with the proviso that training
sessions were run under the tutorship of a qualified coach, and this
was quickly arranged.
Another result of
the amalgamation was the appointment of Alf Blood in June 1972 as
first team manager - Mr. Blood had been in charge of the Springfield
Old Boys team.
Work also began on a bathroom extension to the pavilion after running water had
been laid on for the first time, but the task had been undertaken by people
from within the club and took many months to complete.
One project that failed to come to fruition was the purchase of a new ground on
land bounded by Mill Lane, the River Dove and 'the cut', which was owned by local
Holmes. The club offered to buy a section of the land but Mr. Holmes was only
interested in selling the whole
acres at an asking price of £6000.
Undeterred, the committee decided to pursue their interest and co-opted
the village cricket club and bowling club in a bid to create a sports
centre on the site.
Grant applications were made but failed to
produce the necessary funding after the Parish Council backed plans by the
Rocester Playing Fields Committee to erect a general purpose building in the
village rather than the Football Club's proposals.
This setback soon proved to be irrelevant when
the project was dropped as soon as it was discovered that the land was
classified as "wash" land, and as such could not be re-surfaced or built upon.
Some fifteen years later the club returned to Mr. Holmes and purchased the same
piece of land from him for £12,000, and during the summer of 1987 made it their
Back on the field, and following a slow start to the 1972-73
season results began to steadily improve.
Manager Alf Blood had brought in a couple of new players
including England Schoolboy International John Webb, from nearby Mayfield,
who made his debut in a 1-0 win over Burslem Albion in January 1973.
The team eventually managed to lift themselves up into a
tenth place finish, but were then given a setback when Mr. Blood resigned
from his position because he wanted to continue playing instead.
On many occasions during the early 1970s three
brothers from the village - Alf, George and Steve Blood - played alongside each other in
County League fixtures.
Little time was wasted in appointing Geoff Shenton as Manager
in May 1973, and the new boss was offered a cash incentive of £10 for every
trophy won by his team on top of his expenses. Shenton's reign got off to
quite a good start, and his team ended the calendar year by beating league
leaders Leek Town Reserves 1-0 to go third in the table.
The next game, played on Saturday 5th January 1974, saw West Midlands
College visit the Mill Ground, and things were looking good for Rocester
after 30 minutes of play when Paul Glover received the ball some 30 yards
out and beat three tackles before scoring a fine individual goal.
The young College team from Walsall managed to
force an equaliser on the stroke of half-time, but midway through the second
period Mick Richardson met Brian Ferneyhough's corner with a bullet header
to restore the lead, and the 2-1 win propelled Rocester to the top of the
table for the first time in many years.
1970-71 - County League
Division One Champions
Back: Alan Smith;
Keith Hibberd; Peter Swanwick; Barry Hulton; Marion Nawrot; David
Front: David Evans; Mick Ratcliffe; Steve Brewster;
Barry Thwaites; Leon Hibberd.
Team captain Kenny
Leese is missing from the photo.
Above left - Captain Barry Hulton receives
the County Premier League Cup in 1980 following the 2-1 victory over
Clayton Park. Back in the village (above right) Secretary Gilbert
Egerton, Hulton, Alan Smith and Chairman Ken Green proudly display the
Hopes were high within the club that a serious title
challenge could materialise, but the players were quickly brought back
down to earth in their next fixture against Michelin Athletic Club, who
handed the new league leaders a 3-0 thumping up in the Potteries.
A 2-1 win over local rivals Uttoxeter Town maintained the
pressure on the Reserve teams of Stafford Rangers and Leek Town at the
top, but after two more points were dropped against Blythe Matthey and
only a 1-1 draw was achieved at struggling Red Cow, the league title had
slipped out of reach. Nevertheless, ending the season in fourth place
was no mean achievement, and represented the club's highest finish in
Over the next decade,
under the management of Bob Bassett and then Alan Smith, the club
firmly established itself in the Premier Division, always finishing in
the top half of the table but falling short of being able to mount a
truly serious title challenge.
Cup football however,
proved to be a completely different matter as the growing Rocester team
reached no less than eight cup finals between 1976 and 1980 – but
winning just three of them.
Those three successes
came in the 1976-77 and 1979-80 Premier League Cup competitions when
Baddeley Green W.M.C. (3-1) and Clayton Park (2-1) were beaten, and in
the 1978 Uttoxeter Challenge Cup when Uttoxeter Town were easily
dispatched 4-0 at Oldfields.
Friday 28th April 1978
Uttoxeter Challenge Cup Final
Uttoxeter Town 0 Rocester 4
Rocester coasted to victory at Oldfields
in one of the most one-sided finals in the history of the Uttoxeter
Uttoxeter Town, despite the home
advantage, were completely outplayed in every department.
Ron Jones gave Rocester a 15th minute
lead, glancing in a header after good work by David Bevans. Then Bevans
made it 2-0 with a well-placed shot as he caught the Town defence
Jones rose unchallenged to head in Graham
Eley's free kick to put Rocester 3-0 up at the interval.
Goal of the match came midway through the
second half when Kim Barnett picked the ball up in midfield, jinked past
a defender and hit a tremendous "bender" into the corner of the net from
fully 20 yards.
It was a very disappointing show by the
Uttoxeter side, with midfield man Peter Douglas their only player of
Rocester skipper Barry Hulton received the
magnificent trophy from Mr. G. H. Goode, of the Staffordshire F.A.
The special Man-of-the-Match award went to
Mick Collins, the Rocester striker.
The Uttoxeter Challenge Cup win was a personal success
for the club’s Manager Alan Smith, who had seen Uttoxeter Town thump
Ipstones in their semi-final with some ease. Whilst enjoying a drink
after watching the game, Smith sat within earshot of the Uttoxeter
players who were confident of destroying ‘those young upstarts’ from
Rocester in the Final. Smith ‘flowered up’ some of the remarks made
about his players and used them in his pre-match talk, which certainly
had the desired effect.
Peter Douglas’s display for the Town side in the final
had impressed Smith so much that he decided to forget about some
previous disagreements and make him an offer to come to Rocester. The
two men had never got on when playing against one another, but after
what began as a frosty telephone conversation with Mrs. Douglas, Peter
agreed to come and play for Smith.
A day after Uttoxeter Town were handsomely beaten,
Rocester travelled to Leek to take on Potteries outfit Trent Rovers at
neutral Ball Haye Green's ground in the Semi-Final of the Bourne Sports
Trophy. Five regulars were missing after the previous evening’s
encounter but the team dug deep to record a notable 2-1 victory after
extra time – a Mick Collins strike coupled with a 30-yard own goal
There was no glory in
the final however, which resulted in a humiliating 6-1 thrashing from
Clayton Park. There were mitigating circumstances however, as Rocester
went into the game without goalkeeper Pete Swanwick, Captain Barry
Hulton, and influential midfielders Keith Hibberd and Graham Elks.
Promising young striker Mick Collins netted Rocester’s scant
Trent Rovers gained
revenge for their Bourne Sports Trophy exit when they inflicted a 2-1
defeat in the Premier League Cup Final, again played at Ball Haye Green.
Future Derbyshire and England International cricketer Kim Barnett had
put Rocester ahead but Rovers forced an equaliser with seven minutes
remaining before eventually running out winners after extra time.
Rocester also reached
the final of the Staffordshire Challenge Cup (formerly the Junior Cup)
for only the second time ever in 1979 but narrowly lost 2-1 after extra
time to a powerful Holden Lane side that had just finished runners-up in
the County League.
The first four years of the 1980’s were spent
in now familiar mid-table territory with a team that was competitive but not
strong enough to challenge for honours.
The club was dealt a severe blow with the
untimely death in 1984 of club stalwart Ken Green, who died at just 54 years old
after serving the club for 24 years - many of them as chairman. Ken's sudden
death seriously threatened the club's future as there were so few people working
behind the scenes, and even dedicated clubman Gilbert Egerton, who had kept the
club running alongside Mr. Green for many years, was doubtful that the club
However all that was to change when one of the
senior players - Alan Beaman - turned up at Gilbert's front door with an offer
to take over as team manager. His offer was accepted, and he took over the reins
from Alan Smith, another former player who had been in charge for a number of
It was a turning point in the club's history,
and the beginning of an incredible journey that saw Rocester rise up from being
County League minnows into a respected semi-professional set-up with a team
capable of taking on the non-league elite.
Back to the History Menu >>
Part Five - The
Beaman Years - 1984-1992 >>